I ran across an post the other day in the Washington Post called ‘Our Tornado Voyeurism Problem‘ and it truly was eye-opening.
With all the tornadoes we’ve had lately across the country, it’s becoming more and more of a trend to see people wanting to catch these swirling monsters on video camera or cell phone. We had an example of that right in our own backyard during the Westmoreland County tornado a couple of months ago. The video, which even made it to Jimmy Kimmel Live, shows a kid videotaping the oncoming tornado as he talks to his mom on his phone. Here’s the video:
This is reckless and could be deadly. In the video you can actually see the funnel coming down. At that point, shouldn’t you be heading to the basement or a safe place?
Andy Freedman from the Washington Post writes about what he calls the ‘YouTube Effect.’ He continues by talking about a documentary on the National Geographic Channel about the recent rash of tornadoes.
The documentary featured many of the viral videos, strung together with narration by actor Campbell Scott. Although this surely was not the producers’ intent, one thing became glaringly obvious by watching video after video of people recklessly ignoring tornado warnings and rushing to view tornadoes up close, while screaming phrases like “This is awesome!” and “I’ll never see anything like this again!” – this country has a growing tornado voyeurism problem, and it’s one which may lead many to learn the wrong lessons from the recent deadly scourge of twisters.
Call it the “YouTube Effect.” While they are sure to frighten some into taking more tornado precautions next time, these videos will very likely breed more amateur chasers who will run to the car when they hear tornado sirens, rather than heading for the basement.
Andy also found a great blog post by Chuck Doswell, who works for the NSSL (National Severe Storms Laboratory). Chuck talks about the role that social media has played in storm chasing and how people somehow think they’re immune. (Read More)